The commencement ceremony symbolizes, for many, the attainment of a lifetime goal. As students near completion of their individual degree programs, questions may arise concerning policies and procedures associated with the graduation process. Some of the most frequently asked questions are listed below:  

How do I know when to apply for a degree?
The application for a degree should be submitted one to two terms prior to degree completion. See UWA’s academic calendar for online programs for specific deadlines. Deadlines are also located here.
Why do I have to apply so early for graduation?

Completing the application for a degree and paying the graduation fee alerts a student’s academic dean’s office to a pending graduation. The student’s file can then be reviewed to assure that everything is in order to allow that student to graduate as planned. If a student applied within the same term, there would be no time to address a missing class, test score, GPA requirements, etc.

What happens if I apply late for graduation?

Students applying late for graduation are assessed an additional fee of $75.00. In addition, these students often miss important correspondence from the commencement committee and run the risk of not being able to participate in the ceremony because caps and gowns cannot be ordered, changes to the ceremony program cannot be made and diplomas cannot be printed.

How much is the application fee for the degree?

The fee for the application for a degree is $75.00 for undergraduate students, graduate students, and doctoral students. There is an additional fee for a cap and gown, purchased online through our regalia vendor or on campus through Barnes and Noble.

What does the application for degree fee cover?

The fee covers the cost of processing student files, diploma print costs, commencement printing and mailing and/or degree shipping.

What happens if, for some reason, I am not able to graduate as planned?

If a student does not graduate, they must complete a new application for a degree and resubmit the fee. The fee does not roll over since the cost of processing the files, printing costs, etc.

Do I have to have all required courses and/or test courses and/or internship hours completed before I can graduate?

Commencement is a ceremony that honors students who will soon graduate, which means the students have or will soon complete all requirements of their degree program. Participating in Commencement does not mean that a student has graduated. In order to graduate, a student must complete all requirements of his or her degree program and fill out an official graduation application online.

When students apply to graduate, the Deans and the Registrar will check to certify that all program requirements have been satisfied. Once approved, the degree will appear on the student’s transcript. Degrees are conferred 4-6 weeks after final grades are posted; at that point, diplomas are printed and mailed.

Participating in Commencement is a separate process from graduating. When a student confirms participation in Commencement, UWA will reserve a seat at the ceremony and provide tickets for guests. Participation in commencement does not guarantee that the diploma and a final official transcript will be issued.

Students may be allowed to participate in Commencement if they meet the following requirements:

  • They have completed and submitted the application for the degree prior to the deadline
  • They are enrolled in the final course(s) for completing degree requirements and have attempted any applicable completion exams, internships, defenses, etc.
  • They have written approval from their College Dean
  • They have a plan on file in their dean’s office to complete degree requirements the following term/session; and they have no outstanding financial obligations to the university (e.g., unpaid bills)
What are the dates for upcoming commencement ceremonies?

Commencement exercises for Spring will be held on Thursday, May 2, 2024, and Friday, May 3, 2024. Ceremony times for each college will be announced after the application for Spring graduation has closed. Fall commencement exercises will be held Thursday, December 12, and Friday, December 13, 2024.* Students should consult the academic calendars for application deadlines for all commencement ceremonies. Applications for degrees are due the term before one plans to graduate, so students should check their academic calendars carefully.

*subject to change

If I have questions about the commencement ceremony, who should I call?

Questions concerning the commencement ceremony should be directed to, or you can call (205) 652-5442.

If I have completed my application for a degree on time, when should I receive correspondence from the Commencement Committee?

Instructions for Commencement will be sent to your UWA email in October for the Fall Commencement Ceremony, and March for the Spring Commencement Ceremony. If online students do not respond to the correspondence, it will be assumed that the student does not wish to participate and he/she will be graduated in absentia.

If I receive correspondence from the commencement committee, does that mean I will graduate?

No. For students completing coursework or other degree requirements in the term they graduate (campus Spring semester, online Spring 2, online Fall 2, or campus Fall semester), all coursework has to be completed before final approval. This also means that comprehensive exam scores and Praxis test scores must be on file.

If I am unsure if I have completed all my degree requirements, who should I call?

A student with questions about their degree requirements should contact the academic dean about their degree requirements. The commencement committee chairperson does not have this information and cannot answer a student’s academic questions.

What is the difference between transcripts and a diploma?

A diploma is a symbol of the commencement ceremony itself; therefore, the date on the diploma corresponds with the date of the commencement exercises. A student’s transcripts are the official record of their completion of degree requirements. Typically, it is the transcripts that employers ask to see when seeking proof of the degrees held by an employee. Transcripts will also record the term in which a student completed all degree requirements.

Note: Certificate candidates are completing a certificate and therefore do not receive a diploma upon program completion.